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Protecting Land and Community Resources in Africa

Rural communities across Africa are facing immense threats to their land and natural resources. From increasing foreign investment and speculation by national elites, to rising population and climate change, land claims governed by customary rules or indigenous peoples are beset from all sides.

The introduction of external destabilizing influences often sets off a cascade of multiple and overlapping intracommunity challenges. Often the divisive tactics of investors create community divisions, or infrastructure development degrades livelihoods and creates intracommunity conflicts over scarce resources; elites may make back-room deals with leaders, undermining community trust of local leaders.

Land rights advocates are frequently called upon to support communities facing such issues, especially when certain trends have weakened the communities’ ability to respond to conflicts or threats. Threats to land rights are further compounded by a lack of national political will to recognize and protect community tenure rights. Communities and their advocates must often struggle upstream against government reluctance — or outright resistance — to implement national laws and international guidelines.

Jessica Lea/Department for International Development

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